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Stones
Sticks and Stones #3: The Key to Lethal Urgent Means from the Stone Age thru Today
The stone may have been the first weapon picked up by some type of human. However, most types of humans probably chose a stick first. However, it would soon become obvious that the stone could do more damage. Most importantly, since the stone could crush bone and cut wood, it could be used to butcher kills and to harvest and trim the various sticks in the wooden tool kit.
The first pure stone tool was probably a fist-sized rock. Indeed, there is evidence from a mass baboon grave circa 74,000 years ago in Africa, that the ability to throw stones on the part of one band of humans caused the extinction of a large troop of baboons—all stoned to death. As a primitive human has been hunted by better armed humans throughout Baltimore City by day and night, I have often armed myself with a brick, large stone or stone-like object and am careful wherever I walk, to note the locations of handy stones.
The handheld stone gives rise to three initial weapons:
-Hand axe, chipped from a handy stone
-Knife, a bi-product of the hand-axe making process. Do note that knives have been made of wood, antler and bone through grinding and polishing though this remains outside the mainstream of weapon development in most regions of the world.
-The projectile
The hand axe begs to be married with the stick as an axe or mace. The axe will eventually be married to the pole as well in various configurations
The knife begs to be married with the stick as a point. The knife itself is lengthened and strengthened as much as possible with stick composition and eventually the use of metals, resulting in knives and daggers, both of which weapon types would evolve into swords. So swords, have multiple points of origin:
- The club
- The oar or paddle
- The knife
- The dagger
- The sickle, also evolving from the grass-cutting knife
Projectile development from the stone included marriage with the stick in terms of points for darts, javelins, cast spears and arrows.
However, a separate trajectory occurred in which cordage of some kind was used to make the bolo, sling mace and pouched sling stone. The Andean bronze sling mace was a devastating weapon and had recent stone origins, indeed was used side-by-side with stone sling maces, or flails. The first guns shot stones and the primary means of violent death in the postmodern world remains the bullet, often made of lead, just as military sling stones were made of lead in antiquity. In fact, the three most common means of homicide in the United States are:
-gunshot, essentially being killed with a chemically powered stone
-stabbing, essentially being ripped apart by a sharp stone
-blunt force, including various types of stick-like and stone-like tools, usually marriages such as the hammer, with the aluminum bat and crow bar excellent examples of using metal to render a stick with the properties of a stone, which was essentially the idea behind the sword. However, when a pure form is used to kill, it is with a stone, a rock, a brick, a trophy or an ashtray, not a simple stick. In normal hands the stick which has not been improved into some kind of club or baton tends not to be lethal.
Axes, being stone or metal heads, mounted on sticks for chopping, are next.
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